Kataklysm Shadows & Dust

Quebec's intensely prolific Kataklysm are back with another full-length of their patented "northern hyperblast" take on grinding death metal. Although the initial excitement one may have felt upon hearing the band might just be starting to wane, Shadows & Dust (what, no subtitle?) is nevertheless a fine continuation of their sound. The band's last two albums were excellent, but were also virtual clones of each other. With this release, Kataklysm has added more of their slower groove elements to the forefront, focusing on the side of extreme that can be harnessed and tamed into a catchier, more memorable beast. Does it work? Yes, these songs will be firmly planted in the listener's head after one listen. The only complaints are the same as always: the high-pitched vocals sound totally weak and rather silly, and the bass drum sounds like a computer. Something else is wrong here though, and what that probably has to do with is having to digest three Kataklysm full-lengths in such rapid-fire succession. Shadows & Dust is a better listen than the band's last album, Epic (The Poetry Of War), but comes at us too fast and sounds slightly too familiar. Hard to fault a band this good for giving the world too many good tunes in the past few years, but that seems to be the tragedy upon us. Ignore the larger context, however, and within Shadows & Dust one will find some of the most ferocious, catchy and heavy extreme metal around. (Nuclear Blast)